The Liberal Democrats have announced a massive expansion of marine protected areas and a new Blue Flag status for rivers will be included in their general election manifesto. 

The party has announced plans for new Blue Flag rivers, setting legally binding targets to prevent sewage dumping in those sites. Blue Flag rivers would give special protected status for swimmers and wildlife. 

They believe the current government bathing water scheme has failed to protect waterways from sewage discharges by only requiring increased water quality testing. Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found in 2021 Dŵr Cymru discharged sewage into bathing water areas across Wales 7,888 times for over 63,598 hours. The Lib Dems say Dŵr Cymru has since failed to report sewage discharges in bathing waters since 2021.

The Liberal Democrats are also announcing new plans to protect coastal marine wildlife, which would see the expansion of the blue belt of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Marine environments are currently in a state of crisis due to sewage and plastic pollution. 

Commenting  Liberal Democrat Senedd Member for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds MS said: 

“Our precious rivers and coastlines have been destroyed after years of a Conservative government letting water firms get away with environmental vandalism.

“Meanwhile the Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff Bay has also failed to use the powers they have available to them to tackle the issue. 

Adding his comments, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe David Chadwick said: 

“From the River Wye, to the Tawe and Usk. We are blessed to have some of the country’s most beautiful rivers on our doorstep, but the vandalism that has been inflicted on them is heartbreaking. 

“It is time we got tough on polluting and profiteering water firms. Conservative MPs and Welsh Labour Ministers have stood by whilst swimmers have become ill and wildlife killed by sewage discharges. 

“This scandal has to end now. The Liberal Democrats will have the boldest manifesto on cleaning up our rivers and coastlines. Families should be free to swim safely in the knowledge that our waters are not polluted with sewage.”